Excessive Arctic Relocation: When The Canadian Govt Forcibly Relocated Inuit to Declare Sovereignty in The Excessive Arctic


In the summertime of 1953, the Canadian authorities uprooted seven Inuit households from their properties in Northern Quebec, and dropped them excessive within the arctic, some 2,000 km away, with the promise of higher dwelling and searching alternatives, and with the peace of mind that if issues didn’t work out, they might return residence after two years. However guarantees had been damaged. For many years, the relocated Inuit households suffered immense hardship, combating excessive chilly, starvation and illness, but unable to flee as a result of they had been so far-off.

The Canadian authorities claimed that the relocation was a humanitarian gesture to help the ravenous indigenous individuals and assist them proceed a subsistence way of life. In actuality, it was an try by the federal government to claim sovereignty within the Excessive Arctic throughout the Chilly Warfare.

A household from Pond Inlet on board the C.D. HOWE at Grise Fiord. Picture: Well being Canada/Library and Archives Canada

The households chosen for the relocation had been these receiving welfare assist from the federal government. The precise methodology of recruitment is disputed, however the authorities asserts that the households had agreed to take part in this system voluntarily to cut back areas of perceived overpopulation and poor searching, to cut back their dependency on welfare, and to renew a subsistence way of life. The Inuit, then again, preserve that the relocation was compelled and their life in Inukjuak in Nunavik was greater than passable. Inukjuak was a major regional heart on the time with a inhabitants of about 500. There was a police submit, a climate and radio station, a harbor, a normal retailer, a faculty, a nursing station, and church missions. It was additionally a standard Inuit searching and fishing space.

A complete of ten households had been relocated—seven from Inukjuak and three from the group of Pond Inlet in Baffin Island, located additional north. The aim of the Pond Inlet households was to show the Inukjuak Inuit expertise for survival within the Excessive Arctic. The households had been cut up into two teams destined for 2 completely different settlements, however this reality was saved secret from the households till they’d boarded the ship. 4 Inukjuak households and two Pond Inlet households, totaling 32 individuals, went to Craig Harbour on Ellesmere Island. They later migrated to Grise Fiord about 35 miles west. Three Inukjuak households and one Pond Inlet household, totaling 22 individuals, had been moved to Resolute Bay on Cornwallis Island, a small outpost with a climate station and an airstrip. In 1955, the relocatees had been joined by an additional six households, 4 from Inukjuak and two from Pond Inlet. One Inukjuak household went to Craig Harbour, whereas the remaining went to Resolute Bay.

High Arctic Relocation

When the households arrived on Craig Harbour, they struggled to outlive in a totally new surroundings. The land was barren with no buildings and little or no acquainted wildlife. They needed to endure months of complete darkness throughout winter, and twenty-four hours of daylight throughout summer time, a situation they had been unaccustomed to.

“My dad and mom, I do know, felt trapped for a few years,” remembers Larry Audlaluk, who was two years previous when he and his household was deposited within the distant island.

“It was terrible for them. They needed to be taught to prepare for the darkish season they usually needed to be taught to prepare for very quick heat sunny days, with only a few vegetation within the land,” says Audlaluk.

In northern Quebec, Audlaluk’s household ate cloudberries, Canada geese and Eider geese. None of those had been obtainable on Ellesmere Island.

“My household, the older era, had been used to having a number of completely different sorts of birds after which shore creatures like clams and oysters,” says Audlaluk. “There have been none right here.”

Larry Audlaluk,

Larry Audlaluk, age 7 or 8, at his new residence on Lindstrom Peninsula on Ellesmere Island. Picture: Larry Audlaluk

The relocation had such a profound psychological impression on Audlaluk’s father, a as soon as outgoing man, that he turned quiet and withdrawn and commenced to have fainting spells. He died ten months later.

Ultimately, the Inuit found the native beluga whale migration routes and had been in a position to survive by searching and consuming whale meat.

It wasn’t till the Seventies and Nineteen Eighties, that these displaced obtained the prospect to return to their ancestral residence, usually at their very own expense. The descendants initiated a declare towards the Canadian Authorities in search of $10 million in compensation. With mounting public stress the federal government agreed to help the Inuit to return to the south, and likewise put $10 million in a belief fund for relocated people and their households. Initially, the federal government refused to apologize, however in 2010, after greater than fifty years, John Duncan, the Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Improvement, supplied a proper apology on behalf of the federal government, stating:

The Authorities of Canada deeply regrets the errors and damaged guarantees of this darkish chapter of our historical past and apologizes for the Excessive Arctic relocation having taken place.  We wish to pay tribute to the relocatees for his or her perseverance and braveness.  Regardless of the struggling and hardship, the relocatees and their descendants had been profitable in constructing vibrant communities in Grise Fiord and Resolute Bay.  The Authorities of Canada acknowledges that these communities have contributed to a powerful Canadian presence within the Excessive Arctic.

The relocation of Inuit households to the Excessive Arctic is a tragic chapter in Canada’s historical past that we must always not overlook, however that we should acknowledge, be taught from and educate our youngsters. Acknowledging our shared historical past permits us to maneuver ahead in partnership and in a spirit of reconciliation.

Inuit houses in Resolute Bay, as they existed in 1956

Inuit homes in Resolute Bay, as they existed in 1956. Picture: Gar Lunney/Nationwide Movie Board of Canada

In 2010, native artists Looty Pijamini from Grise Fiord, and Simeonie Amagoalik from Resolute Bay had been commissioned by Nunavut Tunngavik Integrated to construct a monument to commemorate the Inuit who sacrificed a lot because of the Authorities relocation of 1953 and 1955. Pijamini’s monument, situated in Grise Fiord, depicts a lady with a younger boy and a husky, with the girl sombrely looking in the direction of Resolute Bay. Amagoalik’s monument, situated in Resolute, depicts a lone man trying in the direction of Grise Fiord. This was meant to indicate separated households, and depicting them longing to see one another once more.

Looty Pijamini’s monument to the first Inuit settlers in Grise Fiord.

Looty Pijamini’s monument to the primary Inuit settlers in Grise Fiord. Picture: Timkal/Wikimedia Commons

Resolute Bay

Resolute Bay in the present day. Picture: Dave Brosha/Wikimedia Commons

Grise Fiord

Grise Fiord. Picture: Northern Pix/Flickr

References:
# Jane Sponagle, ‘We known as it ‘Jail Island’: Inuk man remembers compelled relocation to Grise Fiord, CBC
# Dussault, René; Erasmus, George (1994). The Excessive Arctic Relocation: A Report on the 1953–55 Relocation,
# Apology for the Inuit Excessive Arctic relocation, Govt of Canada



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